About a week ago, the birding wires were buzzing with news of a rare visitor to the British Isles – a European Roller (Coracias garrulus). It’s the only Roller to breed in Europe and you usually find them around southern Spain, the Mediterranean coasts and into the Middle East, Central Asia, and Morocco, rather than the British Isles. But, here was one perching on overhead powerlines that cross a farm alongside a busy stretch of Suffolk road.
Now, Mrs Sciencebase and myself love a bit of nature as you probably guessed by now, but we don’t tend to “twitch”, we rarely go out of our way to see a bit of wildlife, although it has been known.
Usually, we’d combine an off-patch twitch with another trip and so when Mrs Sciencebase mentioned she’d like to visit the Suffolk Wildlife Trust site at Lackford Lakes on our joint day off I agreed and then let her know about the Roller. Fortunately, the short, fast route we’d normally take had roadworks, so we took a diversion that just happened to go along the aforementioned Suffolk road.
We stopped off, just as had done perhaps 100 other birders, set up cameras and scopes and took a good long look at this beautiful and exotic bird that has some of the characteristics of the Jay, the Bee Eater and the Kingfisher, all rolled into one, as it were. When it wasn’t perched on wires or hiding in the hedgerow it was generally flying past us at about 200 metres distance. But, just as we were giving up on getting a decent shot it flew on to the wires about 100 metres away, sat for a while, did couple of barrel roll flights (hence the name) and then headed back to the hedgerow, so I did get a couple of half-decent in-flight photos of this quite exotic and unique bird.
Hard shooting a fasst-moving bird against a bright sky, high shutter speed also means high ISO which means digital grain (noise).